Loughborough Member of Parliament, Nicky Morgan, is working with disability charity Leonard Cheshire to highlight the difficulties faced by physically disabled people when using public transport.
More than 40% of railway stations across England, Scotland and Wales do not have step-free access, leaving many physically disabled people unable to travel by train. This includes Sileby station, in the Loughborough constituency, which is used 116,452 times a year but is currently inaccessible.
Nicky has met with disabled constituents to hear more about this issue and to give her backing to disability charity Leonard Cheshire's 'Lets Get On Board' campaign which is calling for stations to be made step-free.
Nicky said: "Everyone has the right to get to work and visit their friends and family as they choose, but the lack of step-free access at train stations is barring disabled people from travelling independently, including here at Sileby.
"I will be making representations to Network Rail and East Midlands Trains to press the case for Sileby to become step-free"
Many disabled people also face difficulties planning travel, due to the unclear information on step-free access from National Rail.
Even at stations with step-free access, often a ramp is still needed to get from the platform to the train. This needs extra assistance, which is not always available, making it impossible for disabled people to travel spontaneously.
Vinny comments on the challenges he faces when travelling by train: “I would like to rely on trains more to get around. But I can’t physically get into some stations and transferring between trains is often very difficult.
“Steps are a really big issue for me. It means you have to consider which jobs to go for, because some are just not an option. If someone offered you a promotion and you think there’s a train station around the corner, but then you scope it out and it’s actually too far or there are steps, then it will make the difference between going for the job or not.”
The latest findings follow research by Leonard Cheshire earlier this year that more than a third (35%) of working age disabled people have experienced problems using trains in the last year as a result of their disability.
Leonard Cheshire is campaigning for the government and rail operators to make all stations fit for use by disabled people – this includes making sure every station has step-free access from the station to the train.
The charity is calling on people across the country to write to their local rail operating providers to fulfil their duty to disabled passengers and provide step-free access at their train stations.
Neil Heslop, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Poor public transport is forcing disabled people to miss out on every day events which others take for granted – from employment opportunities to social events.
“Disabled people cannot continue to put their lives on hold. Rail operators must make it their absolute priority to ensure that their train stations have step-free access, so that all their customers can travel as they choose.”